Gillibrand smiles on Brooklyn

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New York’s junior senator last week threw her weight behind four Brooklyn projects for federal funding.

In total, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wants to put a little more than a $1 billion from a $500 billion six-year transportation bill now winding its way through Congress into projects for the borough.

“Here in New York we have aging roads and bridges, and lack of new infrastructure is holding back our economic growth,” said Gillibrand.

Gillibrand said she cameup with a list of statewide projects that could use funding for infrastructure needs and create employment after speaking with local leaders across the state.

The biggest chunk of funding that Gillibrand proposed for Brooklyn is $720 million for work related to the proposed Cross Harbor Freight tunnel that would connect New Jersey to Brooklyn.

Gillibrand said that while the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey made the request for the funding, she is working with Rep. Jerrold Nadler, long an advocate for the tunnel, in making sure the money is included in the transportation bill.

If constructed, the tunnel will connect New Jersey with Bay Ridge and serve to link Long Island, New England and national markets west of the Hudson River.

The money will not go toward the tunnel, but in rehabilitating the current rail freight network running in part through Brooklyn, said Gillibrand.

This network runs through Bay Ridge, Borough Park, Flatbush and Canarsie.

About $291 million of the funding would go to construct a new, nine-lane bridge to replace the existing six-lane Kosciuszko Bridge to improve safety and operation through this section of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE). The project limits are from Morgan Avenue in Brooklyn to the LIE Interchange in Queens.

Gillibrand also wants to earmark $25 million for the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway Project.

The long championed project includes a planned 14-mile, non-motorized commuting and active recreation route from Greenpoint to Bay Ridge.

According to the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative, the group that submitted the request, this project could create or retain as many as 600 jobs, said Gillibrand.

Finally, Gillibrand wants to earmark $26 million for bridge inspection and maintenance enhancements to several city bridges including the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg bridges.

According to the city’s Department of Transportation, which submitted the request, this project could create or retain as many as 125 jobs, she said.

While Gillibrand wants this money included in the Transportation Reauthorization Bill, it must go through the Congressional conference so that both the Senate and House of Representatives can agree to the spending and length of its provisions.

Currently, the Senate is working on an 18-month extension of the bill while the House is moving forward with a new six-year bill, she said.

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